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Four candidates file for vacant Nikiski assembly seat

Assembly chambers _ Poux
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly unanimously approved a Feb. 14, 2023 special election date, with the potential for a March 7 runoff.

Four candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to fill the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly’s Nikiski seat left vacant by Republican State Sen. Elect Jesse Bjorkman.

Bjorkman was elected to the Alaska State Senate back in November, and his resignation from the Assembly is effective Jan. 16.

The Borough Clerk’s office has been taking applications for the past 15 days, and received four by the filing deadline yesterday.

Heidi Covey is a small business owner who has lived in Nikiski since 1985, according to her filing statement. She has served on the Alaska LNG Community Advisory Council, the Nikiski Senior Service Area Board and Road Service Area Board, and says she looks forward to promoting economic growth and opportunity in Nikiski.

Also vying for the role is William Hubler, a long-time swimming, diving and wrestling coach with the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District. According to his statement, he’s lived on the peninsula for 43 years, and wants to contribute to future development in Nikiski while preserving the community’s “unique way of life.”

Lenora Niesen also filed for the seat. She’s an Alaska resident of 43 years who ran a business systems company out of Anchorage. She currently serves on the newly formed Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission.

The fourth candidate is Peter Ribbens, an environmental consultant with experience in oil and gas and a Nikiski resident of 25 years, who previously served on the Nikiski Fire Service Area Board. In his statement, Ribbens writes that he wants to promote long-term fiscal stability for the borough’s essential services.

Candidates Heidi Covey (left), William Hubler (middle) and Peter Ribbens (right). Lenora Niesen did not include a photo in her application.
Courtesy Photos
Kenai Peninsula Borough
Candidates Heidi Covey (left), William Hubler (middle) and Peter Ribbens (right). Lenora Niesen did not include a photo in her application.

The assembly will appoint one of the candidates to the seat at the beginning of its upcoming meeting, next Tuesday, Jan. 17. The appointee will serve from that meeting until the next election this October, according to the borough website.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.